Is there really magic in the power of three?


By Gwen Ong

Is there really magic in the power of three?


Do you believe in the power of three? Society has long been obsessed with the number three. Think of some of the most popular stories or rhymes and you’ll begin to see a pattern that seems to have started from when you were born. For example, you learned your ABCs and 1-2-3s; you grew up with Three Blind Mice, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Musketeers, etc; and you played rock-paper-scissors or tic-tac-toe.

Three is a magic number. And ‘three’ is deeply embedded in our culture as a simple way to grasp things. This is because psychologically, the human brain finds it is easier to comprehend complex concepts when it is broken into three parts. Just like how the abovementioned rhymes and stories are easily picked up by children to learn, practise and master. It is also suggested that things are more memorable and funnier in a trio (Three Stooges anyone?).


“Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge,”


– Plato


The rule of three is a principle that is followed closely in literature as an effective form of storytelling. It is no surprise to read that a good story has a beginning, a middle and an ending while some of the best fictions are broken into a trilogy. The power of three is also an impactful speech writing technique where you start with an introduction, go to the body and summarise with a conclusion. The message, then repeated three times, becomes more persuasive, memorable and entertaining when reiterated or delivered such.

In sports, there is value to ‘three’. Awards are handed out to the gold, silver and bronze medallists, so you can’t really fault the English language for giving importance to the top three placing (1st, 2nd, 3rd) while the rest that follows end in the same manner (4th, 5th, 6th and so on). Also in English, they say the third time is the charm. Have you ever wondered why most three-part quotes like – ‘eat, pray, love’ – or – ‘sex, drugs and rock & roll’ – are easily ingrained into the mind? And why a ménage- à-trois is a pleasurable escape for some couples?


“Wisdom, compassion and courage are the three universally recognised moral qualities of men,”


– Confucius


In religious viewpoint, you find the Holy Trinity as one Almighty God. When you look at tarot teachings, three is seen as the union of two parts to create a whole while in numerology, one is the force, two is the opening and three is the manifestation of true wisdom. The triangle itself symbolises strength, balance and luck. Now in popular culture, one can be a wonder, two is but a fluke, but when something happens for the third time, it can now be called a trend.

So, you see, three is a magic number. Three is the pinnacle of success, three is thrice the inspiration, three is #BuroTurnsThree.

Happy 3rd anniversary Buro 24/7 Malaysia!

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